News Roundup – Blockchain Innovations and Developments

News Roundup

What are some of the latest advances in blockchain technology? Here is a roundup of recent developments:

Finalists named in South Australia Blockchain Innovation Challenge
Organisers of South Australia’s Blockchain Innovation Challenge have announced the names of 10 finalists that will be able to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts during the ADC Global Blockchain Summit in March. The AU$100,000 prize pool will be distributed among winners chosen during the summit; the criteria for selection include originality, project impact and benefit to South Australia. The finalists include the South Australian Museum’s Project Provenance, Carnegie Mellon University’s Wisecar, Platfarm’s tool for soil testing, REC BLockchain’s technology for trading renewable energy, ValAi’s tool for property valuation, Clare Valley Wine and Grape Association’s solution for wine provenance, NextFaze’s Twohands smart tags for food, Yup Yup Lab’s solution for land and building data, Wright Technologies’ Seraph for location data and CryptoCate’s Flying Fox platform for blockchain education.

Chamber of Digital Commerce urges US support for blockchain
The Chamber of Digital Commerce, a US-based trade association, is encouraging both the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to support blockchain innovation and blockchain-based financial products. Chamber founder and president Perianne Boring offered her comments on behalf of the organisation in a letter to the CFPB on 11 February and a letter to the CFTC on 15 February. “In comments to both agencies we stressed the need for enhanced coordination among regulators, particularly in light of the byzantine structure of US financial services regulation,” chief policy officer Amy Davine Kim and director of technology policy Paul Brigner wrote in a chamber blog post. “We encourage all financial regulators to collaborate on effective and efficient approaches to achieve regulatory goals while promoting investment and growth.” The chamber on also released its National Action Plan for Blockchain on 20 February.

Seoul to invest $1bn in smart-city tech and other innovations
The city of Seoul on has announced plans to invest 1.2tn won (more than $1bn) in its Seoul Innovation Growth Fund between now and 2022. Established last year, the fund aims to support startups in several different technology areas, including smart cities and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Blockchain ventures are likely to be part of that mix, as officials have already outlined a vision of Seoul as “a city of blockchain”. Among the other blockchain-specific programs the city is developing are a global blockchain centre, a blockchain college, a fund for blockchain unicorn companies and support for blockchain governance and blockchain in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions sector.

Moscow eyes late-spring launch for blockchain innovation cluster platform
Moscow officials plan to launch the IT platform for a blockchain innovation cluster by the end of spring, the Russian news agency Tass reported on 11 February. The platform will enable users to find business partners and seek grants from the city. According to a draft bill expected to be considered soon by the Moscow City Duma, the innovation cluster is designed to provide a single platform for business incubators, technology parks, IT companies, universities and research-and-development organisations. iMoscow reported that the cluster is aimed at reducing fragmentation that “hinders the transfer of technologies to the real sector, reduces the competitiveness of domestic goods, and slows the growth of hi-tech startups”.

Research looks at possible paths for blockchain adoption in the music industry
The adoption of blockchain technology in the music industry could follow four possible paths, according to recent research from the UK’s Middlesex University: anarcho-libertarian, corporate, ‘utopian’ or ‘dystopian’. The music industry, write researchers Marcus O’Dair and Robyn Owen, provides “an example of how alternative internet-based finance utilising blockchain could provide opportunities for startup funding and ongoing revenue streams”. They add: “Although some expect blockchain technology to remove intermediaries, facilitating a direct relationship between artist and fan, initial findings are that intermediation in some form will remain. The article’s central focus is the crucial emerging role of these facilitator organisations – the new breed of financial intermediaries or ‘infomediaries’.”

Telefónica seeks ‘disruptive’ tech ideas for innovation support
Spanish telecommunications firm Telefónica has put out an open call for technology entrepreneurs with a “disruptive vision” in areas such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality, computer vision, biotechnology and gaming. As part of its Open Future network – composed of 50-plus innovation spaces in nine countries – Telefónica plans to select a certain number of startups after the call ends on 20 March to support and promote their innovation efforts. It says it will focus on new-technology ideas that can offer “significant evolution solutions for the business ecosystem”.

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